A government initiative titled Techno Girls is advancing the inclusion of women in the information and communications technology (ICT) industry in South Africa
The ministry in the presidency responsible for women, department of basic education, UNICEF, the State Information Technology Agency and Uweso Consulting have come together to implement the national skills programme, which is aimed at addressing the gender gap in sectors that are traditionally male-dominated. According to statistics released by the Institute of Information Technology Professionals, women in South Africa make up more than half of the country’s workforce but only 20 per cent of them are in the ICT industry.
Uweso Consulting programme manager Andolene Hofmeyer said that the Techno Girls programme is a job shadowing programme for girls to encourage the uptake of careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The programme has two components – the Techno Girl Job Shadowing and the Techno Girl Alumni. “The job shadowing is implemented over a period of three years for 15 days per annum over the period,” Hofmeyer added.
The Techno Girl Alumni Association continues to support beneficiaries who have completed the programme and are furthering their studies at higher education institutions to ensure a high completion rate of studies for girls.
Lerato Mhlongo, a student at University of Pretoria, took part in the Techno Girls programme and is all praises for it. When she joined Techno Girls, she wanted to study civil engineering but later changed her mind about her career choice after attending a career guidance session. Instead, Mhlongo chose to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in Information Science instead because it exposed her to economics, business and information. “I love the course because I get to gain a lot of knowledge. Once you gain knowledge about a certain thing, you tend to be confident about how you live your life. Your values change and the way you see things changes as well. So doing this degree makes me see life in a different perspective, which helps me to structure my life in a way which will help me reach my goals,” she said.
More than 9,000 girls have benefited from the Techno Girls programme since it started in 2005. The programme currently has more than 2,700 girls benefiting from job shadowing.